KU’s First Faculty
July 19th marks the 147th anniversary of the selection of the first faculty of the University of Kansas. Three individuals were selected to instruct KU’s first student body, a student body that would consist of a total enrollment of 55 students.
The three new faculty members were Elial J. Rice, David H. Robinson, and Francis Huntington Snow. Their annual salary was set at $1,600 for their first year. Rice would stay at KU one year before moving on to Baker University and becoming president of that institution. Robinson (not to be confused with Charles Robinson, a founder of Lawrence and strong supporter of the establishment of KU in Lawrence) was hired as KU’s Chair of Languages. Admired by his students and colleagues, he would stay at KU until his death in 1895 from typhoid fever.
But it was the hiring of Francis Huntington Snow that would have the longest impact on the new university. Snow had graduated from Williams College and had recently served in the U.S. Christian Commission in the Civil War. Lawrence found and first governor of the State of Kansas was a friend of Snow’s father, and had encouraged young Snow to work at KU instead of finding a future as a minister.
Snow’s major area of study had not been mathematics and sciences, he was most prepared to teach languages. But after the hiring of David Robinson, KU no longer need a languages instructor and Snow was offered the position of Chair of Mathematics and Natural Sciences. This was to be a good move both for KU and for Snow.
Snow would take to the study of sciences easily and went on to become very respected in the field of entomology. He was named the state entomologist in 1882 and became well known for his fight against the chinch bug, which had been a thorn in the side of Kansas farmers for some time.
In 1890 Snow was appointed as the fifth chancellor of the University. During his years as chancellor the College of Arts, the Graduate School and the schools of engineering, fine arts and pharmacy were created. Six buildings were also erected during his tenure and the first woman was hired as a faculty member. Other great hires for Snow during his years at KU included adventurer and first State of Kansas Fish and Game Warden Lewis Lindsay Dyche as well as the inventor of basketball, James Naismith. Snow’s contributions continue to enrich the University to this day.